COULD THE RESULTS HAVE BEEN MANIPULATED?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Nov. 27, 2016) — According to an article in New York Magazine dated November 22, 2016, a computer science and engineering professor and director of the Center for Computer Security and Society at the University of Michigan who later provided a sworn affidavit in the recount petition submitted by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein to the Wisconsin Elections Commission was involved in strategy phone calls with Clinton campaign manager John Podesta making the case that recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania might yield a different result in the November 8, 2016 presidential election.
New York reported that J. Alex Halderman was a member of “a group” of analysts exploring the theory that “results in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania may have been manipulated or hacked.” “The group is so far not speaking on the record about their findings and is focused on lobbying the Clinton team in private,” the magazine wrote at the time.
The theorists reportedly told Podesta that Clinton received fewer votes in Wisconsin counties which utilized electronic voting equipment as opposed to those using paper balloting or optical scanners. “Based on this statistical analysis, Clinton may have been denied as many as 30,000 votes; she lost Wisconsin by 27,000. While it’s important to note the group has not found proof of hacking or manipulation, they are arguing to the campaign that the suspicious pattern merits an independent review — especially in light of the fact that the Obama White House has accused the Russian government of hacking the Democratic National Committee,” New York summarized of the conference calls.
In his affidavit, which begins on page 5 of Stein’s petition, Halderman states his education and background in “computer security and privacy,” including “peer-reviewed research analyzing the security of electronic voting systems used in Wisconsin, other U.S. states, and other countries.”
After citing alleged interference in the U.S. election by “the Russian government,” Halderman stated that “American voting machines have serious cybersecurity problems.”
Similar concerns have been raised in previous elections across the country.
On Thursday, citing New York‘s reportage, the AP wrote that Halderman “in an article posted on Medium on Wednesday, stressed that the group has no evidence of a cyberattack or voting irregularities. He urged that a recount be ordered just to eliminate the possibility.” The reference to “Medium” is a left-leaning blogsite where Clinton campaign attorney Marc Elias revealed on Saturday that the Clinton campaign would take part in Stein’s recount efforts.
In his Medium.com post, Halderman took issue with New York Magazine’s characterization of his election analysis. “You may have read at NYMag that I’ve been in discussions with the Clinton campaign about whether it might wish to seek recounts in critical states. That article, which includes somebody else’s description of my views, incorrectly describes the reasons manually checking ballots is an essential security safeguard (and includes some incorrect numbers, to boot). Let me set the record straight about what I and other leading election security experts have actually been saying to the campaign and everyone else who’s willing to listen,” Halderman wrote as an introduction to his essay, parts of which appear to have been adapted for the affidavit.
Halderman wrote that “paper ballots are the best available technology for casting votes.” “Much more needs to be done to secure America’s elections, and important new safeguards could be put in place by 2018. States still using paperless voting machines should replace them with optical scan systems, and all states should update their audit and recount procedures. There are fast and inexpensive ways to verify (or correct) computer voting results using a risk-limiting audit, a statistical method that involves manually inspecting randomly selected paper ballots. Officials need to begin preparing soon to make sure all of these improvements are ready before the next big election,” he concluded his essay.
The Wisconsin Secretary of State’s website does not appear to have posted any citizen complaints of voting irregularities on Election Day. Nevertheless, The Post & Email has contacted the Secretary of State to inquire if any citizen complaints were received.
At approximately 2:30 a.m. on November 9, Wisconsin‘s ten electoral votes were projected to be awarded to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, adding to his declared victories in the carefully-watched swing states of Florida and North Carolina. Within several more minutes, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania determined that its 20 electoral votes would be awarded to Trump as well as Michigan‘s 16 electoral votes.
Following a recount, on Friday, the Michigan Elections Commission declared that its electoral votes will be certified for Trump on Monday. At least one Trump Michigan elector reported receiving death threats.
Without Michigan, Trump’s electoral vote count reached 290, exceeding the 270 required to win the presidency, while Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton accumulated a reported 232 electoral votes. The Michigan Secretary of State’s office states that results to be certified on Monday show that Trump garnered 10,704 more votes than Clinton.
It has been reported that in Pennsylvania, a petitioner requesting an election recount must show evidence of fraud and obtain a court order to proceed. The Post & Email is attempting to verify the report as this article goes to press.
In keeping with Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution and the 12th and 14th Amendments, the Electoral College members meet in their respective state capitols on December 19 to cast their votes for president. During the 1787 Constitutional Convention, the Founders determined that the chief executive should not be popularly-elected, but rather, chosen by citizens from each state designated as electors who would then cast their ballots according to the wishes of the people, barring any constitutional or legal constraints.
As The Post & Email reported on Saturday night, Wisconsin law allows a candidate who was on the ballot to challenge the results of an election by submitting a petition citing evidence of fraud, miscounting or some other irregularity. Stein’s petition is arguably vague and based on the theory that hackers, possibly from the Russian government, could have breached security firewalls in the state’s electronic voting equipment.
Sharon Rondeau has operated The Post & Email since April 2010, focusing on the Obama birth certificate investigation and other government corruption news. She has reported prolifically on constitutional violations within Tennessee’s prison and judicial systems.